The Springstead Eagles volleyball team (11-2) defeated the Weeki Wachee Hornets (7-4) by a 3-1 margin on Thursday night. After a narrow 3-2 victory by the Eagles late last month, Coach Werkmeister and the Hornets were looking to go into the Eagles’ Nest and even the score. This was not meant to be for the guests in green and black, though, as the home team took a hard-fought victory in four sets. With both squads having strong starts to their seasons, what would it take for either to come out with a win and the momentum heading into the second half of the schedule?
Weeki Wachee Senior Outside Hitter Morgan Maedar logged the first point of the initial set, but the lead would prove to be short-lived. The Eagles quickly flipped the advantage to a 4-2 lead in their favor thanks to three points by senior Ezryel Thompson. Her third score brought about an early Weeki Wachee timeout. The breather did not manage to change the tenor of the opening set, however, as another spike by Thompson kept the home team in control. While their lead would fluctuate for much of the period, the Eagles scored five straight late in the set enroute to a 25-17 victory.
The second set saw a similar, yet mirrored, result as Weeki Wachee led most of the way and won by a score of 25-17. The Hornets started quick by jumping out to a 4-1 lead, but the Eagles tied the game at 4 apiece and forced the Green and Black to use a timeout. After this, the closest Head Coach Andrea Gracey’s squad would come would be an 11-10 deficit. The Hornets would then score six straight points, spurred on by a pair of scoring plays by Maedar, to create some distance between them and the home team.
Set three proved to be the fulcrum on which the game hinged. While both teams took one of the previous sets with relative ease, this period was a tug of war. With seven ties and several lead changes throughout the set, neither team would give an inch. The pivotal moment came towards the end with Springstead clinging to a 21-18 lead. When Weeki Wachee was awarded a point due to junior Outside Hitter Emily Miller touching the net, confusion ensued and Springstead called a timeout.
“So, I asked the down ref, ‘what part of her body touched the net?’, Coach Gracey said. “And she goes, ‘I don’t know but it was really, really fast.’ And so, I asked my captain to go ask the up ref to call her – not to overturn the call, but to just have them get on the same page to be very, very sure about knowing who was in the net, what part of the body because a ref can be a third opponent in this game and a mental aspect… I in turn got a yellow card for it, but it is what it is. They weren’t on the same page and that’s all I was trying to get them to be on the same page.”
After that set of circumstances, how would the Eagles respond? Coming out of the break, Thompson recorded a critical dig to give her team the point. Weeki Wachee would answer by way of a hit by junior Dylan Elferdink. Following miscues by both teams, Springstead held a razor thin 23-22 lead. Thanks to scores by senior Middle Hitter Kendall Bunch and sophomore Savannah Imhof, the Eagles took an emotional 25-22 victory in set three. Coach Gracey’s players then maintained that energy in what would be the final set of the evening. Thompson and Miller combined to score the final five points to put the game away for the Eagles. This led to the largest advantage of the night as Springstead defeated Weeki Wachee 25-14 in the fourth set.
“They do very, very good at – just as much as I’m mama bear, they like to protect me and that’s the whole family aspect of the game,” the Eagles’ Head Coach said. “They definitely come out there and not only play for themselves but play for us coaches as well. So, to see them take it where it didn’t crush them down mentally and to get the points that we did to close the door on the game, it makes me so proud… We can teach volleyball, but we can’t teach them the mental aspects of the game.”
With the spirited matchup in the rear view, Weeki Wachee will hope to get back on track when they face the Seven Rivers Christian Warriors (9-4) on Monday afternoon. On Friday Sept. 16, the Eagles maintained their momentum beating the Countryside Cougars (5-8) with a score of 2-0.